Johns Hopkins All Children's Research

Ranjan J. Perera, Ph.D.

Director, Center for RNA Biology, and Associate Professor, Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Department and Institute Affiliations

  • Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
  • Institute for Fundamental Biomedical Research, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital
  • The Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Contact Information

Research and Education Building, Rm. 4111
600 Fifth Street S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

P: 727-767-3491
F: 727-767-3160

Post-doctoral opportunities

Two post-doctoral research fellowship positions in basic science in the field of oncology & non-coding RNA research are available in the laboratory of Dr. Perera in the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Institute for Fundamental Biomedical Research.

Find information and requirements for postdoctoral fellow positions:

For more information or to apply, please contact Dr. Perera at with a CV including references and a cover letter/personal statement.


  • M.S., Cytogenetics, Peoples Friendship University Moscow, 1984
  • Ph.D., Molecular Genetics, Moscow University, and DNA Repair and Recombination, University of Gent, Belgium, Adviser: Professor Marc Van Montagu, Ph.D., 1987
  • Post-doctoral fellowship, Gene Targeting and DNA Recombination, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Adviser: Professor Ethan R. Signer, Ph.D., 1994


Dr. Perera is director of the Center for RNA Biology at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, a senior scientist in the Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute and an associate professor of oncology in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He also has a secondary affiliation with the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Institute for Fundamental Biomedical Research. He uses biology, analytic genomics and bioinformatics to seek patterns that can lead to treatments for aggressive cancers. Dr. Perera’s research focuses on genes and identifying those susceptible to changes that lead to disease. He seeks to identify these changes early in life, which would allow early intervention through surgery or therapies that could prevent or alter the course of the disease.

Dr. Perera worked for several biotech and pharmaceutical companies before joining the faculty at Mercer University’s School of Medicine as an associate professor and director of genomics and research and development at Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial Health Medical Center. He then worked for the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Research Institute before joining Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in 2018. He is also an adjunct faculty in the NCI-designated Cancer Center at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, California. ​

Honors and Awards

  • Honorary Professor, Institute of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Colombo, 1999
  • European Economic Community Biotechnology and Genetic engineering scholarship for post graduate studies, 1987

Read more about Dr. Perera's work:

Cerebrospinal Fluid May Be Able to Identify Aggressive Brain Tumors in Children

New research led by Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center investigators shows the possibility of identifying the presence of an aggressive brain tumor in children by studying their cerebrospinal fluid. Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., senior study author and director of the Center for RNA Biology at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, talks about the impact of the study.

Read More

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Scientist Makes Key Cancer Discovery

Ranjan Perera, Ph.D., was the senior author on a study that may lead to more effective therapies for medulloblastoma, a common form of pediatric brain cancer.

Read More


Research Interests

Childhood cancer medulloblastoma and adult skin cancer metastatic melanoma are difficult cancers to detect early, and once caught late, they are nearly always impossible to cure, causing mortality despite surgery and conventional therapies. Understanding the biology of these aggressive cancers is critical in finding effective treatments.

Dr. Perera's recent research on tumor plasticity has provided a novel direction in the biology of these cancers, and they have found that abnormal patterns of regulation of certain long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and microRNAs genes determine the cancer aggressiveness. These findings support an unorthodox approach in investigating such cancers in that tumor heterogeneity rather than mutational processes might be the important underlying molecular mechanism behind aggressive cancers. Therefore, novel therapeutic strategies might be in order, but much more remains to be understood in this direction. Specifically, the genome-wide systems biology approaches become important when aggressive medulloblastoma and melanoma initiate.

Dr. Perera's lab has embarked upon a systems biology initiative to investigate the role of non-coding RNA expression in these cancers and propose extending this initiative from the laboratory to patients' bedside.

Select Publications

  • Katsushima K, Lee B, Kunhiraman H, Zhong C, Murath R, Ying J, Liu B, Garancher A, Gonzalez-Gomez I, Stapleton S, Vibhakar R, Bettegowda C, Wechsler-Reya RJ, Jallo G, Raabe E, Eberhart CE, Perera RJ. The long non-coding RNA lnc-HLX-2-7 is oncogenic in group 3 medulloblastomas. NeuroOncology (2020); doi:10.1093/neuonc/noaa235.
  • Bongyong Lee, Anupama Sahoo, John Marchica, Junko Sawada, Sanjay Sahoo, Fabiana I. A. L. Layng, Darren Finlay, Joseph Mazar, Piyush Joshi, Masanobu Komatsu, Kristiina Vuori, Garth Powis, Petrus R. de Jong, Animesh Ray, Ranjan J. Perera. MicroRNA-211 Modulates the DUSP6-ERK5 Signaling Axis to Promote BRAFV600E-Driven Melanoma Growth In Vivo and BRAF/MEK Inhibitor Resistance. J Invest Dermatol, doi:10.1016/j.jid.2020.06.038 (2020).
  • Bongyong Lee, Iqbal Mahmud, John Marchica, Paweł Dereziński, Feng Qi, Fubo Wang, Piyush Joshi, Felipe Valerio, Inoel Rivera, Vipul Patel, Christian P. Pavlovich, Timothy Garrett, Gary P. Schroth, Yinghao Sun, Ranjan J. Perera. Integrated RNA and metabolite profiling of urine liquid biopsies for prostate cancer biomarker discovery. Journal Scientific Reports 2020 10:3716.
  • Piyush Joshi, Tatsuya Seki, Shinobu Kitamura, Andrea Bergano, Bongyong Lee, Ranjan J Perera. Transcriptome stability profiling identifies novel and functional miR-211 targets in melanoma cells. RNA Biology. https// (2019)
  • Sahoo A, Sahoo SK, Joshi P, Lee B and Perera RJ. MicroRNA-211 loss promotes metabolic vulnerability and BRAF inhibitor sensitivity in melanoma. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2018; doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.06.189.
  • Lee B, Sahoo A, Marchica J, Holzhauser E, Chen X, Li JL, Seki T, Govindarajan SS, Markey FB, Batish M, Lokhande SJ, Zhang S, Ray A, Perera RJ. The long noncoding RNA SPRIGHTLY acts as an intranuclear organizing hub for pre-mRNA molecules. Science Advances. 2017; 3(5):e1602505. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602505.; PMCID: PMC5415337.
  • Mazar J, Qi F, Lee B, Marchica J, Govindarajan S, Shelley J, Li JL, Ray A, and Perera RJ. MIR211 functions as a metabolic switch in human melanoma cells.  Molecular and Cellular Biology, 2016; 36(7):1090-108. PMCID: PMC4800793
  • Khaitan D, Dinger ME, Mazar J, Crawford J, Smith MA, Mattick JS, Perera RJ. The melanoma-upregulated long noncoding RNA SPRY4-IT1 modulates apoptosis and invasion. Cancer Res. 2011 Jun 1; 71(11):3852-62. PubMed PMID: 21558391.

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